A DARLINGTON woman has returned to the classroom after watching her daughter fly the nest to university.

Former high-end fashion retailer Julie Wilkerson turned art student after struggling to cope with her empty nest.

The 51-year-old mature student enrolled on an access to higher education course at Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD) in a bid to find a new lease of life.

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She said: “I was at such a low ebb, I’d just gone through a divorce, my daughter had moved away and I was left with an empty nest and an empty heart.

“I really needed to focus on something just for me.”

The course has given Ms Wilkerson the opportunity to explore art history drawing, textiles, 3D and digital art.

It has inspired her to go on to study for a degree in textile and surface design.

She said: “I never thought I’d be back doing higher education at 51 but I’ve loved every minute of it.

“I’ve found it all very therapeutic and healing.

“It’s also very challenging but it’s given me a massive personal sense of achievement and really changed my life for the better.”

For more information on joining access to higher education courses at CCAD, call 01642-288888.